The Arctic is a hot topic in public media. News articles are consistently reporting on the most recent scientific findings related to record temperatures and the accelerated melting of the ice sheet. How we as the public envision the Arctic is largely confined to a frigid and desolate landscape with a lone polar bear. This image of what the Arctic entails shapes common perceptions and contributes to a dominant narrative of the Arctic as an uninviting place.
The narrow vision of the Arctic combine with the news we receive being confined to reporting on graphs displaying alarming trends, does not make for a compelling story. It is already difficult to relate to events occurring in a neighboring city, let alone a faraway area in the northern most stretches of the world. How can the issue of climate change be felt and motivate people to act? How a story is told is incredibly powerful in shaping the discourse on climate change. Specific frames are evoked when particular words are employed and shape how information is received. Therefore, it is critical to know how to make every word count so that the message is clear and delivers the most impact.
When we think about the Arctic, we should see it as the canary in the coal mine, in terms of foreshadowing what is to come. The changes taking place in the Arctic clearly demonstrate that the world is changing in significant and unexpected ways. What happens up there in the Arctic has direct consequences on our lives. There is an opportunity to learn from the current changes by being attentive and reflecting on how these changes relate to our daily lives. Developing a more effective communication strategy is critical for a shared societal understanding and building the necessary support to address climate change.
Emilia Noel Ptak
Emilia Noel Ptak is a recent graduate of the MSc. Nature Management program at the University of Copenhagen. She is trained as an environmental scientist and policy analyst. The interdisciplinary research she is involved with focuses on European Union environmental policy, sustainable development, climate change governance, and science communication.
A voice from the Triangulation through Science Communication project.